House OKs bill allowing agencies to boot tax-delinquent feds

Tuesday - 7/31/2012, 11:46am EDT

(Updated Aug. 1 12:30 p.m. to include information about the House vote)

A bill passed by the House Tuesday means federal employees with serious tax debt could get the pink slip.

The House voted 263-116 to approve the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act and send it to the Senate.

The measure would make those are who are seriously delinquent ineligible for federal employment, whether they're working for the government now or are applying for a job. Applicants would have to certify that they were not seriously delinquent and agencies would conduct periodic reviews of public records for tax liens.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), would require job applicants to certify they have no serious tax debt.

In 2010, active and retired feds and military personnel owed $3.4 billion in unpaid taxes, according to records released by the IRS.

And Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chief sponsor of the bill, said the problem of tax-delinquent feds has barely improved over the past decade.

There were 102,794 federal employees who were delinquent with their federal taxes 2004 and only a slight drop to 98,291 in 2010 — including some 700 congressional employees, he said.

"If you work for the federal government and you don't pay your taxes, you should be fired. It is totally unacceptable to live on the federal payroll and not pay your taxes," Chaffetz said in a statement earlier this year.

The House will take up legislation Wednesday that allows the IRS to levy taxes on the Thrift Savings Plan to collect unpaid federal taxes. According to a Congressional Budget Office review, the bill would increase revenues by $24 million over the next decade.

Charge card abuse

The House will also vote on bill, introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and passed by the Senate, targeting federal employee misuse of government charge cards.

The Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act would put safeguards on charge cards, which are used for small-scale items such as office supplies and for travel use.

"This bill is about accountability. The public trust has been violated by abusive use of government charge cards. The federal bureaucracy needs to improve the way it manages the use of these cards," Grassley said in a statement.

The legislation would require credit checks for travel card holders and issue "restricted cards" for feds with poor or no credit. It would also set up training for cardholders and managers.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report).

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